Europe, allowing feudal lords to have sexual relations with subordinate women, in particular, on their wedding nights. Some scholars believe the « right » might have existed in medieval Europe. Others say that it is a myth, and that le Droit de cuissage : La Fabrication d’un mythe, XIIIe-XXe siècle PDF references to it are from later periods.
Similar customs have been recorded elsewhere. The term is often used synonymously with jus primae noctis, Latin for « right of the first night ». In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh is described as having practiced a similar custom: « He is king, he does whatever he wants takes the girl from her mother and uses her, the warrior’s daughter, the young man’s bride. Herodotus mentions a similar custom among the Adyrmachidae in ancient Libya: « They are also the only tribe with whom the custom obtains of bringing all women about to become brides before the king, that he may choose such as are agreeable to him. When the plebians of the Etruscan city of Volsinii rebelled against the aristocrats in 280 BC, « They took their wives for themselves and placed the daughters of the nobles under the jus primae noctis, while all their former masters on whom they could lay hands were tortured to death. The medieval marriage fine or merchet has been interpreted as a payment for the droit du seigneur to be waived. Alternatively, it has been interpreted as compensation to the lord for the young women leaving his lands.
A similar payment to church authorities has also been interpreted as relating the droit du seigneur. However, according to British scholar WD Howarth, the church at some times prohibited consummation of a marriage on the first night. The payment was for an indulgence from the church to waive this prohibition. Gerald on the road to sainthood. In the fourteenth-century French epic poem Baudouin de Sebourc, a tyrannical lord claims the jus primae noctis unless he receives part of the bride’s dowry. The supposed right was abolished by Ferdinand II of Aragon in Article 9 of the Sentencia Arbitral de Guadalupe in 1486. The right was mentioned in 1556 in the Recueil d’arrêts notables des cours souveraines de France of French lawyer and author Jean Papon.